Steph Gunnoe and Sean McCollough met in Knoxville, TN in 2000. They immediately discovered a shared love of Appalachian roots music. Soon they began picking out tunes together, and their complimentary musical styles quickly became apparent.
They spent many afternoons in Steph's kitchen arranging songs by traditionalists such as Hazel Dickens, Bill Monroe, and Gillian Welch along with several of Steph's early originals. Their first public performance together was at the beautiful Palace Theater in Maryville, TN for a friend's wedding. Their second public appearance was live on the radio on WDVX, and their musical career as a duo was on it's way.
A couple of years later, they met Maria Williams through friend Phil Pollard (who Sean Played with in a band called Evergreen Street). Maria soon joined them on upright bass and they started calling themselves The Lonetones. In 2003, they put out their first album, Useful. Phil played drums on the album and soon began joining the band for live gigs as well.
The band began playing regularly around Knoxville, and then also began traveling to nearby cities for gigs. They released their second album, Nature Hatin' Blues, in 2006, expanding their sound with the addition of vibraphone and glockenspiel (played by Pollard). In 2008, Pollard moved to Richmond, VA and was replaced by Steve Corrigan. As they prepared to record their next album they expanded their sound even farther by adding Lissa McLeod on accordion and keys. They released Canaries in 2009.
The band briefly stripped back down to four members with Sean adding keyboards to his arsenal of instruments. But despite having fewer members, the band's sound actually expanded with Steph switching to playing electric guitar on some tunes and Maria switching to electric bass.
As they began recording their fourth album, Modern Victims, they employed the services of Cecilia Miller on cello. She quickly became a regular guest at live shows and is now a full-time member of the band.
After Modern Victims, the band line-up changed again. With Steph and Sean at the center and Cecilia playing cello, Jamie Cooke (Black Lillies, Everybody Fields...) joined them on drums. Then, after over a decade of playing with Maria, she moved on and Vince Ilagan (Circus #9, Scott Miller, Justin Townes Earl, Christabel and the Jons…) steppedin on bass.
In 2017 they released their fifth album, Dumbing It All Down. They are currently working on a sixth album.
The excellent song writing, vocals and instrumentation that have marked previous Lonetones releases are brought, on Dumbing It All Down, to another level. It’s tighter while being more expansive, focuses on the loss of nuance while delivering it in every direction and sends the group’s musical message to new heights. Here’s hoping it reaches the fans it deserves.
- Alan Sims (Inside of Knoxville Blog)